Advocacy is a vital part of enacting social change, and it’s far easier to do when your advocacy software takes care of the heavy lifting so that you can focus on your message. And with social media among the quickest and easiest ways to raise awareness of an issue and communicate with those who can enact change, you need your advocacy software to work with your social media strategy and help you spread your message.
But with all the different types of advocacy software out there, how can you be sure that you’re finding the one that works the best for your nonprofit? We’ve previously compiled a list of our essential social media tools for nonprofits to look for in any advocacy software, so you can see what we find most useful. From a broader perspective, however, there are several features to look for before you move ahead with a new software integration: Post scheduling, post templates, mobile-optimized forms, social media sharing, and targeted action options.
If you’re ready to dive into why these 5 features are so vital to your advocacy efforts, let’s go!
1. Post scheduling
The first step of having an effective social media presence is actually having a social media presence. Your followers have to see your posts regularly so that they become aware of — and start to appreciate — what you bring to their timelines or dashboards.
But even if you have a social media coordinator, they can’t be active on your nonprofit’s social media 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. So your online advocacy software has to have the ability to schedule posts for the future. Some examples of this feature are:
- Pre-scheduled posts on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to commemorate days important to your mission, such as your founder’s birthday.
- Recurring posts like newsletters and monthly contributions, which can be edited on an ongoing basis and then published on the first of the month or something similar.
- Scheduling Instagram and Facebook posts to receive the most traffic: Do some research about when your audiences are most likely to be online and engage using Facebook Analytics or Twitter Analytics, and optimize your post schedule to receive the most likes, shares, views, or link clicks.
Post scheduling is also an important feature for ongoing campaigns, because you can plan posts, reposts, and shares to remind followers and supporters about fundraising campaigns, petitions, or other key actions they should be taking.
According to M+R’s 2018 Benchmarks, each Facebook post made by a nonprofit only reaches 7% of its fans, so make sure you’re giving followers the chance to see your contributions to Twitter and Facebook. When combined with effective email outreach (which boasts an average ROI 122% higher than social media), you can increase your nonprofit’s visibility through social media scheduled posts.
This also helps social media coordinators with their workloads: They can plan a batch of posts all at once, and then work on other projects in the meantime. But post scheduling isn’t the only important automation of social media for advocacy software.
2. Post templates
Post templates are a vital part of a nonprofit’s online presence because they allow organizations to create a gorgeous post or infographic, and then replicate it again without having to build from scratch.
Templates stored in your advocacy software are especially helpful when your nonprofit needs to get information out as quickly as possible.
Say that something momentous is happening, and you want to take advantage of the groundswell of support that your organization could gain by harnessing the reaction. You don’t want to waste time building a petition to send out.
Instead, you just pull up the template that you’ve used for a previous petition that you know your supporters responded well to. You fill in the appropriate information, include some stunning pictures or graphics, and send it off!
Your supporters will be impressed by your nonprofit’s response time, and you’ll get the signatures you need on your petition so that you can put it in front of the people who need to see it. Before you know it, you’ll be using that surge of support to create real, actionable change.
But what are the important elements to include in a template?
- Images: Visual storytelling is the key to online engagement, so make sure that you include pictures of your team at work, or the community that you serve.
- A bold title: You want to catch the eye of the reader as soon as they see your page.
- Easy-to-use buttons: Your buttons should be rallying cries that inspire the viewers of the page to act, with clear calls-to-action so they know what to do.
By setting up a template with some key strategies and best practices, you can ensure that every post and online petition form is beautiful and effective.
3. Mobile-optimized forms
While mobile optimization isn’t strictly a social media tool, it is an integral part of your nonprofit’s social media strategy, accounting for nearly 80% of time spent on all social media networks.
If the content that you share on social media isn’t mobile-optimized, you’re going to miss out on engaging with a serious part of your supporter population that increasingly prioritizes high-functioning and attractive websites and forms.
If your sign-up form, email newsletter, or petition is hard to read or use on a mobile phone or tablet, your followers are far less likely to complete the form or read what you have to say.
While it’s possible to handle optimization yourself, it’s much easier to purchase a software that makes all of your advocacy needs mobile-optimized automatically. This includes allowing your supporters to access click-to-call tools, legislator lookup tools, online or peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns, and event registration via their phones.
If your nonprofit is primarily focused on grassroots advocacy, make sure you ask yourself these 5 fundamental questions from Salsa Labs before you purchase your software.
4. Social media sharing
Your advocacy software shouldn’t simply allow you to post on social media — it should also encourage your followers to post as well.
A large part of your mission’s visibility and reach online relies on your followers helping you to carry the load. You should encourage them to post content relevant to your mission, and use hashtags that your nonprofit tracks. But you can also help your supporters post about your mission even more by making sure your forms, petitions, newsletters, and thank-you emails are all shareable on social media.
At the beginning of 2018, Facebook announced that its new algorithm for users’ timelines would prioritize posts from friends and family over those from Pages, like the ones that most nonprofits use to host their Facebook presence.
Asking your supporters to use their own social media accounts as megaphones for your message is supremely important in the light of these changes. If you’re tracking the analytics that matter, you’ll know that posts that get comments rather than likes generate more engagement.
So when you choose an advocacy software that allows your supporters to share their interactions with your organization, both your organization and your supporters benefit. They can show their values by demonstrating what they’re doing, and your nonprofit gets shared.
What are some easy ways to make your followers’ posts work for your nonprofit?
- Allow your petitions to be easily shareable on Facebook and Twitter, so that your followers’ followers can be exposed to your organization’s work and hopefully add their signatures to the petition.
- Allow the thank-you emails that you send after donations or actions to be shared. People love to demonstrate that they’re doing some sort of good, and your organization benefits twofold: people tend to support causes their social circles support, and they see that your organization cares about its supporters enough to send thank-you follow-ups.
- Encourage your supporters to share your infographics and reports. This action helps your nonprofit’s mission by exposing more people to your work as well as educate them on the facts.
Getting your supporters involved in your marketing strategies is a great way to expand the reach of your grassroots advocacy efforts. After all, social proof is a powerful motivator, and social media is an easy way for your supporters to demonstrate their activism and your nonprofit to gain legitimacy, and encouraging shares and comments on social media is a low-effort, high-impact way to increase engagement and visibility.
5. Targeted action options.
Targeted actions are an important part of mobilizing your grassroots advocacy community. With targeted actions, you can encourage supporters to contact their legislators and other people involved with your mission.
Now that politicians and other public figures have public social media presences, your advocacy software should allow you to make targeted actions on those social media platforms. While writing letters and making phone calls is still a seriously important part of your supporters’ engagement with your cause, you also need to be able to encourage them to make noise on social media.
Your advocacy software should allow you to create targeted actions on Twitter or Facebook, as well as encourage your supporters to share the option to take action and become social media ambassadors.
There are 2 important facets of social media targeted actions to keep in mind when choosing your advocacy software:
- Your software should include a drag-and-drop form builder so that you can make your targeted action form as attractive and easy to use as possible. If it is difficult to use, your supporters are not going to complete the action.
- You should be able to fold the same targeted action into a form that posts to separate social media platforms, i.e. your supporters shouldn’t have to fill out multiple forms to send the same message on different platforms.
If Turtle wants to tell her local legislator to vote against a certain bill and is a part of your organization, your software should offer her the option to make her voice heard on both Twitter and Facebook, while only filling out one form.
Your supporters are busy, and you want to make their time and energy count as much as possible. That’s why relying on an advocacy software that can support targeted actions across multiple platforms is a smart move for any organization.
Your advocacy group is doing important work for your community. Don’t let a sub-par social media strategy slow you down. Invest in an advocacy software that handles the grunt work of social media for you, and you and your team can focus on what’s most important.
If you want to brush up on your advocacy basics before investing in a new software, check out the Ultimate Advocacy Guide from Double the Donation!